1. Opening of the meeting by Jean-Marie Heydt, President

The members of the Conference of INGOS, meeting on 24 January, had:

2. adopted the agenda [CONF/PLE(2013)OJ1] with one change : item 9 “Adoption of the new Rules of Procedure of the Conference of INGOs” would be dealt with immediately after item 5, as Rémy Berthier, who was responsible for presenting the changes to the rules, could not be present in the afternoon.

3. adopted the synopsis of the meeting held on 27 June 2012 [CONF/PLE(2012)SYN3].

4. 2012 activity report of the Conference INGOs

listened to the President take stock of what had happened in 2012: after experiencing some difficulties, the Conference of INGOs was now well known through the activities of some of its members and was often approached , which was a positive development. It had, for example, been invited to take part in the activities of the North/South Centre along with government representatives. In the current situation, which was not just a crisis but a genuine metamorphosis of our society, governments needed an organised civil society, whose strength lay in its beliefs and its values. As the INGOs’ budget was steadily decreasing, many of them were bound to disappear, and that would seriously weaken democracy.

She underlined the major events of the year:

5. Expert Council on NGO Law (link to the site)

listened to Cyril Ritchie, President of the Expert Council, inform the Conference that 2012 had been an intermediary year. The new terms of reference of the Expert Council had been adopted in June. Examining laws and verifying that they were actually applied was an important task. The Council could influence legislation before it was adopted. Recommendation (2007)14 of the Committee of Ministers on the Legal Status of NGOs, which had been unanimously adopted needed to be implemented. The number of INGO activities was dropping not only in Belarus and Azerbaijan but also in other states. Special attention needed to be paid to the situation in Russia where the associations which received international funding had to appear on a special register. Cyril Ritchie said that the Expert Council was working with the Venice Commission on draft guidelines concerning freedom of association. It was also working together with the Commissioner for Human Rights.

9. Adoption of the new rules of procedure of the Conference of INGOs (link to the rules of procedure)

listened to Rémy Berthier, President of the Verification and Dispute Committee, present the amendments to the Rules of Procedure. The main changes concerned:

6. listened to the statement by Claudia Luciani, Director of Democratic Governance, who said that she was interested to see what the Conference did to foster democracy. She wished to propose a number of ideas. In view of the challenges facing the Council of Europe, she proposed two priorities:

7. The Conference of INGOs and the promotion of democracy

8. The Conference of INGOs and the eradication of extreme poverty

10. Evaluation of the four-yearly reports of INGOs with participatory status

11. The Conference of INGOs and the countries in the Southern Neighbourhood of the Council of Europe

12. Adoption of texts prepared by the Committees

13. There were no open questions this time. Such questions should be submitted to the Conference prior to the plenary.

14. Other business

15. Next session: Thursday 27 June.

Rapporteurs: Odile Moreau and Marie-José Schmitt